I Am My Country: And Other Stories

Random. Apr. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9780593449462. $27. F
DEBUT The striking, nuanced stories in Orhan’s debut are individually gems and collectively astonishing, set in a Turkey burdened by oppression; absurdity is sometimes the only way to respond. A trash collector finds a banned instrument and then its player in the garbage, brings them home, and eventually attracts a group of musicians who create a secret orchestra until the government cracks down. A struggling florist at first scorns the stray dog who hangs about her shop but then befriends it and trains it in acts of resistance. Elsewhere, a young woman who resists her brother’s admonishments to remove her veil reveals a stubborn, independent streak in a quiet act of revenge. The story of two friends, one a competitive swimmer, the other following his father into the mines, reveals terrible fault lines in Turkish society.
VERDICT This is engrossing reading, and Orhan provides smart insight into a complicated country as no newspaper ever could. Highly recommended.
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